This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Isn’t it funny how your life could be going great one week, and the very next week you can watch it circle the drain? You could have everything you’ve ever worked for, your dream job, and then it’s all ripped away from you before you could blink. I worked to get away from my family’s big name. As the daughter of one of the largest defense contractors of America, I ran away from the limelight as far and as fast as I could. I was one of the last 21 year olds to become a Chicago cop in 2010 before they raised the age requirement. Blood, sweat, and tears went into my climb to homicide detective. But that’s the thing about life, isn’t it? Just when it seems like everything is ruined, when that door slams shut in your face, the sun starts peeking through the window. My name is Fayth Blackwell. This is the story of the end of my dream and the beginning of my life.
“This is not fatal, Fayth,” the doctor said in an attempt to calm the young woman in front of her. “People live a normal life with Peduncular Hallucinosis every day.”
“I can’t have this. I don’t even know what this is!” Fayth Blackwell said shakily. Her ebony hands shook almost as much as her voice.
“The headaches you’ve had were just a warning sign of the disorder. People with Peduncular Hallucinosis usually experience both auditory and visual hallucinations. The children you’ve been hearing are also common signs. We’ve caught it pretty early, and you’re only 26, so with the proper medication and techniques, we can show you how to cope with it. Here, we’ll try one right now.” The doctor opened her desk drawer and pulled out a small mirror.
Fayth glanced at the mirror. Once she knew what it was, she stood and backed away quickly. Her heartbeat quickened, her eyes widening and breathing turning into small, shallow pants. “Get that thing away from me,” she murmured, her voice shaky and barely above a whisper.
“Fayth it’s just a mirror. It plays a major role in one of the techniques I was just talking about,” her now alarmed doctor said. “The mirror helps you center your own image and focus on what’s actually around you.” The doctor stood, offering her the mirror.
“I said get it away! I don’t want that thing anywhere near me!” Fayth said louder, her hand going to the holstered gun tucked in her belt.
“Ok, ok. Relax,” the doctor soothed, putting the mirror away. “Why don’t we sit back down, and discuss what about the mirror scares you.”
“I don’t have time,” Fayth responded, glancing at the clock once the mirror was put back into the drawer. “I have to get to work. It’s my first day back.”
Fayth walked into the precinct, ignoring the sly glances and the not-so-sly stares from the other homicide officers and detectives on her floor. She took off her jacket and tossed it on the back of her chair, sitting at her desk and taking a deep breath. She had barely typed the password to unlock her computer before a uniformed officer arrived at her desk.
“Detective Blackwell? The Captain would like to see you.” He kept his head down when he talked to her, avoiding her gaze and leaving as soon as he had spoken. Fayth frowned, but stood and walked the long hallway to the Captain’s office.
“Blackwell. Glad to see you back,” Captain Wash said from behind his desk. The forty-year-old man pushed aside the papers on his desk and ran his hand across his balding head. He changed much in the week she had been gone. The remaining strands of hair were limp and gray instead of the dark box dye that he usually wore. The lines on his forehead deepened as he sighed, adding ten years to his face. “You look a little stressed. Come sit down.”
Dread slowly filled her stomach with each step she took toward the empty chair. His voice seemed strained and weary, something that felt odd for the normally energetic man. “Yeah, doctor pulled out a mirror. I wasn’t prepared.”
“I don’t understand your fear of them. They’re just reflective surfaces,” he said, shrugging.
“That’s the point, isn’t it? Are they really just reflective surfaces?”
“I’m not sure I follow you.”
She shrugged, picking at her shirt. “Just something my parents used to say. A belief that mirrors are windows. I don’t like the idea of other people looking at me when I can’t see them,” she said. “Still dealing with the aftermath from the case, Captain?” she asked, trying to change the subject.
He understood the hint and nodded. “Unfortunately. It was the biggest case we had for a long time. The Governor’s daughter was a highly public figure. Her death will be news for the next six months,” he replied, leaning back in his chair. “At least until someone’s brought in.”
“What do you mean?” she asked warily. “I wrote in my report that she was a suicide. She was an addict who didn’t want to go back home.”
“Yeah...” he sighed. “We can’t have that report put on file. The higher-ups want any implication of her drug use swept under the rug. They already have their lawyers going on record saying she was found murdered in the warehouse.”
“What?!” Fayth sat forward in alarm. “Captain she was alive! She had the needle in, but she hadn’t pushed the plunger.”
“I know, I read the report. The higher-ups also read it. They don’t want that out. They’ll do anything to keep that from getting out...” he said pointedly. He sighed, looking at her apologetically as he pulled a slip of paper from the side of his desk.
She saw her name printed on the top and her heart dropped. “Captain...please...”
“Fayth I am so sorry. You’re a great detective. And because of that I choose to do things this way. They’re afraid you’re going to go public with the report. They heard rumors about you hearing children in the warehouse? What was that about?”
“I just came back from my parents’ specialist. I have something called Peduncular Hallucinosis. She said it was a disorder that can be coped with,” Fayth said quickly. Her heart was racing in her chest. She gripped the arms of the wooden chair in an attempt to stop her hands from shaking. “I can deal with it. It’s not going to be a problem.”
“Fayth they will drag you through the mud. Your parents had big names themselves. You’re the daughter of one of America’s biggest defense contractors,” he said.
“Don’t do that. Don’t bring them into this. They have nothing to do with this. I just put them in the ground two months ago,” she said, her voice dangerously low.
“I know that, but with the rumors, they’ll claim you’re a grief-stricken drug addict living off of your parents money so loudly that by the time you come out and say you have a disorder no one will believe you. People are desperate for a scandal. It wouldn’t be hard to convince them that one rich girl was jealous of another. Before you know it, they’ll start hinting you hired someone to kill her. That kind of publicity will never go away.” He stopped for a moment, letting the situation sink in. “I’m trying to save you, here. You’re too good of a person to even consider recanting your report. I know that. Quite honestly I don’t want you to. I want you to stay as good as you are, to not change to fit the mold they want you to squeeze into,” he responded in earnest. “You were my last recruit at 21. You earned your spot in this Precinct. You’ve been like a daughter to me during your time here.”
“Then why are you holding a letter of resignation that I didn’t write?” she asked. She and the captain had slowly created a bond from her first day as a cop. He became a father to her, more than she felt her own had been for the first twenty-five years of her life.
“The press will want to talk with the officers who found her. They don’t know it’s you. If you leave the force, they won’t badger you. No one in this office will mention your involvement, not if they want to keep their jobs. The higher-ups would much rather you just disappear than having to go through all the trouble to discredit you.”
“All I’ve ever wanted to do was be a cop,” she said quietly, her eyes staring fixedly at her lap to stop him from seeing them swell with tears.
“You can still help people, Fayth. Have you ever thought about being a private investigator?” he asked her softly. “You certainly have the credentials. I know the testing facility and could help you get through the process.”
“How do I know that they won’t still try and destroy the rest of my life,” she muttered.
“They just want you out of the force. One way or the other. They won’t bother you if you keep silent about the case,” Captain Wash assured her. “I’m really trying, here, Fayth. I’m sorry it has to be this way. I figured if you sent in a letter of resignation it wouldn’t look bad, so I wrote one up for you. I also wrote a letter of recommendation for the private investigating facility. I promise you with your record getting your licenses will be quick and painless.”
She sat quietly in the chair for a few minutes. Nothing about the day she had been having seemed real, but she knew it was never something she could dream up. Her stomach twisted and flipped, her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Sure, she could use her parents’ lawyers to fight anything that the bigwigs threw at her. But that would only prolong the public view into her life, something she dreaded almost more than the mirrors that terrified her since her youth. No matter how she looked at it, her career as a Chicago detective was over. Maybe the private investigating job the captain was offering her was her new way out. “What do I have to do?” she asked softly.
“Just sign this letter of resignation. I’ll take care of the rest.” He slid the paper over to her along with a pen. “You’re not at the end of your rope, Fayth. You still have your whole life ahead of you. I think you’ll be a great P.I.”
She signed the paper after reading it, wiping away a tear that had escaped and ran down her cheek. “So now what?”
“Go home. Relax. You can clean out your desk later. I’ll call you when I hear back from the facility.” He took the paper gently and put it aside. She nodded and stood, not chancing a glance at him as she walked out. Without saying a word to anyone, she grabbed her jacket off of what was now no longer her chair at what was now no longer her desk and walked out with her head held high, saying goodbye to the place she had grown to call home.
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